The company SpaceX put another 60 satellites in orbit for its Starlink internet network on Thursday. The company already has more than a thousand satellites and yet another 60 will be added tomorrow, Friday, if the launch is successful.
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, early today (6:19 GMT) with the satellites at the tip and, approximately nine minutes later, stage one of the spacecraft landed gently on the “Of Course I Still Love You” pad located in the Atlantic about 400 miles (630 km) off the coast.
This is the fourth launch by SpaceX so far in 2021 and the 17th in the Starlink series.
It is also the fifth use of stage one of this Falcon 9 rocket, which had last been used before today 27 days ago, a record in SpaceX’s accounts.
The mark had previously stood at 38 days between two missions. When complete, the Starlink network will consist of 1,440 satellites.
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Since 2010 there have been 107 Falcon 9 rocket launches by Elon Musk’s company, owner also of Tesla electric cars, and NASA’s partner in the program to send astronauts to the International Space Station on commercial spacecraft from U.S. soil.
Tomorrow’s launch is scheduled for 5:14 a.m. (10:14 GMT).
The two missions were initially planned to launch today within five hours of each other, but SpaceX announced Wednesday that it was postponing one of them until Friday to allow more time for pre-flight checks.